1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Brand

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 76 (September 1806) 881-82.



11 [September]. At his rectorial-house at St. Mary-at-Hill, London, aged about 63, the Rev. John Brand, M.A. rector of the united parishes of St. Mary-Hill and St. Andrew Hubbard, in the city of London, and resident secretary of the Society of Antiquaries. He was a native of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; and, Oct. 6, 1774 (being at that time B. A. of Lincoln College, Oxford) he was presented, by Matthew Ridley, esq. of Heaton (patron "pro hac vice") to the Curacy of Cramlington, a Chapel of Ease to St. Nicholas at Newcastle, from which it is distant about 8 miles. While a Bachelor of Arts at the University, he published a very pretty poem on "Illicit Love, 1775," 8vo. supposed to be written among the ruins of Godstow nunnery. He was admitted F.S.A. in 1777; and published "Observations on Popular Antiquities, including the whole of Mr. Bourne's Antiquitates Vulgares, with Addenda to every Chapter of that Work; as also an Appendix, containing such Articles on the subject as have been omitted by that Author," 8vo. This work is dated from Westgate-street, Tyne, 1776. For an enlarged edition of t his book he had long been collecting materials. After he took orders, he was admitted into the family of the late Duke of Northumberland, at Northumberland-house, by whom he was presented to the Rectory of St. Mary-Hill, on the death of the Rev. Dr. Griffith, 1784; in which year he was also elected secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, on the death of Dr. Morell. In 1789 he published "The History and Antiquities of the Town and County of Newcastle-upon-Tyne," 2 vols. 4to, embellished with views by Fittler, at an expence of 500. "This is a splendid work, and Mr. Brand spared no pains in amassing his materials, and has preserved the historical detail with uninterrupted exactness. The low price at which this work has since been sold is supposed to be owing to the great number of copies which were printed, and to the death of the bookseller at whose expence it was published; the whole impression was sold, on the latter occasion, at a very low price, which has probably caused a valuable book to be slightly regarded." New Catalogue of English Living Authors, p. 304. The compiler of that Catalogue ascribes to him an historical Essay on the Principles of Political Associations in a State (with an application of those principles), 1796, 8vo, a pamphlet; and another, "A Defence of the Pamphlet ascribed to J. Reeves, Esq. and intituled Thoughts on the English Government," 8vo. But these, and all others in the political line, were (as we stated in vol. LXIV. p. 241) the work of another clergyman, B.A. in the University of Cambridge. The compiler before-mentioned celebrates Mr. B.'s "degree of learning and extent of enquiry, which, in a nobler field of historical research, might have crowned his labours with more than common approbation." He was twice prosecuted by common informers for non-residence, having let his excellent parsonage; but performed all the parochial duties with the most exemplary punctuality, being regular in his attendance on duty weekly, as well as on Sundays, walking from Somerset-place for that purpose. Since the late regulations, however, respecting residence, Mr. Brand, who before that period lived entirely in the apartments of the Society of Antiquaries, at Somerset-place, had been in the constant habit of sleeping at the rectory. He always took much exercise; and on the day before his death had a long ramble with two much-valued friends, with whom he parted in the evening, apparently in perfect health. He rose next morning about 7 o'clock, his usual hour, and went into his study, when his female servant took him an egg, which he usually ate before he went to Somerset-place. She afterwards went into an adjoining room, as she had been accustomed, and to which he generally came, after having eaten his egg, to have his coat brushed, or his shoes tied. She waited a considerable time, and at last went into his study, where she discovered him lying on the floor lifeless; with a wound in his head, which he had received in falling. A surgeon was immediately sent for; but all his attempts to restore animation proved ineffectual. He died unmarried, and without leaving any relation except a very aged aunt. He was buried in the chancel of his church, Sept. 24. — In him the Society of Antiquaries have sustained a very great loss, able, attentive, indefatigable, he was always alive to their business, of which he was a perfect master, and which he executed not merely as a duty but as a pleasure. He was also an occasional contributor to their "Archaeologia." His explanation of a Roman altar and tablet found at Tinmouth castle 1783, appeared in their vol. XIII. p. 326; and in vol. XV. (just published) he communicated "An Inventory and Appraisement of the Plate in the Lower Jewel House in the Tower, Anno 1649," from the original MS. in his possession (p. 271). His personal friends have lost a cheerful, pleasant companion, ever willing to communicate information, and to assist their researches after scarce and valuable books and prints, of which he had a thorough knowledge. His collection of both is of great value. In it are some copies of rare portraits, drawn by himself, in a manner that perhaps renders them little less valuable than the originals; and never was he happier than when he had an opportunity of making a present either of a scarce pamphlet or print to any intimate friend to whom he knew it would be particularly acceptable. A small silhouette likeness of him is in the frontispiece to his History of Newcastle.